Groups slam Florida over removal of anti-bullying resource

TALLAHASEE, Fla. – Advocacy groups are criticizing the Florida Department of Education for removing an anti-bullying webpage from its site, saying the decision will harm LGBTQ students.

A spokesman for the state education department on Wednesday said it removed the portal because it contained links to federal sites that “previously provided helpful guidance and information, but now are being used as platforms for advocacy.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center said it was “shocked” by the decision.

“These resources were a lifeline for students who identify as LGBTQ+, providing hope that Florida schools can remain a safe space where they would be treated fairly and can learn without fear,” said Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Nadine Smith, executive director for Equality Florida, released a statement calling the decision politically motivated.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this year signed a bill barring transgender girls and women from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes identified as girls at birth. The removal of the webpage also comes as Florida and the U.S. Department of Education have been feuding over the state’s decision to penalize school boards over mask mandates.